Civil Rights Activism in Downtown Baltimore

This tour is based on our 2015 October 6 tour on Civil Rights and Urban Renewal but includes enough distinct material to require a listing. Both tours are based on a series of tours of Downtown’s West Side developed in 2011.


  • Introductions
  • About Baltimore Heritage
  • Tour overview

Battle Monument (Calvert & Fayette Streets)

  • Designed by Maximilian Godefroy, architect
  • Building began 1815 completed 1826
  • Monument to the common man, not general-on-a-horse kind of thing
  • Built to honor the 39 men who fell at North Point & Fort McHenry 1814; not all men

Privateers and the U.S. Navy played a major role during the War of 1812 and included many free black sailors. Some estimates as high as 50% of U.S. Navy. Army segregated during the War of 1812; Navy segregated after the war.

From review of The Slave’s Gamble

Smith opens the book with the story of HMS Leopard stopping USS Chesapeake in 1807. He explains that three of the four sailors whom the British captured were black men claiming to be Americans. The Chesapeake-Leopard affair seemingly had little to do with race, but Smith argues that race was “central … to the history of the subsequent War of 1812” (p. 2). War gave African American men an opportunity to choose their own futures; during several flash points in history, Smith demonstrates, free and enslaved blacks had a brief chance to determine their own destiny.

Frederick Hall – example of black man who served at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812

In the Spring of 1814 the enslaved Frederick Hall escaped from slaveholder Benjamin Oden (1762-1836) of Prince George’s County. On April 14, Frederick, alias William Williams was enlisted as a private in the 38th U.S. Infantry by an Ensign Martin.

“FORTY DOLLARS REWARD – For apprehending and securing in jail so that I get him again, NEGRO FREDERICK; Sometimes calls himself FREDERICK HALL a bright mulatto; straight and well made; 21 years old; 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high, with a short chub nose and so fair as to show freckles, he has no scars or marks of any kind that is recollected; his clothing when he left home, two months sine, was home made cotton shirts, jacket and Pantaloons of cotton, and yarn twilled, all white. It is probable he may be in Baltimore, having  relation there, a house servant to a Mr. Williams, by the name of Frank who is also a mulatto, but not so fair as Frederick. BENJAMIN ODEN, Prince George’s County, May 12th, 1814.”

What happened to William Williams?

It seems the officer who enlisted Williams made no inquiries, nevertheless Williams received his bounty of $50 and was paid a private’s wage of $8 per month.  In September the 38th U.S. Infantry were ordered to Baltimore to Fort McHenry, taking part in its defense, within the dry ditch surrounding the Star Fort with 600 other U.S. Infantry soldiers. Records at the National Archives reveal that Williams was “severely wounded, having his leg blown off by a cannon ball.” He was taken to the garrison hospital at Fort McHenry where he died.. His final resting place remains unknown.

After the war in 1833-34 Mr. Oden petitioned the government for Williams land bounty, but since Williams was a slave, and“therefore, inasmuch as a slave cannot possess or acquire title to real estate by the laws of the land, in his own right, no right can be set up by the master as his representative.


Example of black resistance to colonization following the War of 1812

A large proportion of the seamen by whom our principal victories were gained in that war, were men of colour, who were then enlisted without restriction, but now we have a standing general order of the navy, that not more than five in a hundred seamen enlisted, shall be coloured — and this is officially explained to be for the purpose of confining coloured men to menial services on board our vessels of war! Said a brave man in Baltimore, who fought in the defence of North Point and afterwards served against Algiers in the Guerriere,

‘there we stood intermingled, white and coloured, manning the same gun, and shot down indiscriminately; the officers exhorted us to fight bravely in the defence of our country; and then after the war was over they tried to get us to go to Africa, and told us that was our country; but I will not go. I feel that this is my country and that I shall never go out of it alive.’


Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse

  • Architects Wyatt and Nolting won national competition
  • Built in 1900; Renaissance Revival/ Beaux Arts
  • Gargoyles located above door; gives a sense of “All is well, I’m on watch”
  • Interior decorated by Municipal Arts Society in 1900 with public art. 80 murals (today Municipal Arts Society donated Male/Female in front of Penn Station).

Named after Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr.

When Willie Marshall (Thurgood Marshall’s father) wasn’t working on trains, he was a regular figure in the rear of courtrooms, a hat perched on his lap as he watched trials. Thurgood Marshall, later recalled

”I got the idea of being a lawyer from arguing with my dad… We’d argue about everything.”


Preston Gardens – St. Paul Street

Few know that in this neighborhood, along Hamilton Street and Courtland Street – a thriving black community stood up through the early 20th century. Black lawyers, religious leaders and countless others occupied a mix of homes, offices and social halls built from the early to mid-1800s. The neighborhood had originally developed as an affluent district just north of the developed downtown when Mount Vernon Place was still a forest and a dueling ground. As the city’s African-American population grew following the U.S. Civil War, black household largely moved to south Baltimore and central Baltimore – clustering around the black institutions that predated the war and prospects for employment around the harbor. By the late 1890s and early 1900s, the district passed out of fashion with many middle-class African-Americans as they followed white Baltimoreans in moving out into the northwestern suburbs now known as Bolton Hill, Madison Park and Druid Heights.

Unfortunately, this outmigration and a series of “improvements” to St. Paul Street between the 1910s and 1930s resulted in the demolition of nearly all of the buildings in this area. The construction of Preston Gardens was one of the “improvements” that led to this clearance.

Just a few weeks after the fire, the judges at the Baltimore City Courthouse met and sent a joint recommendation requesting that St. Paul Street be widened to create a plaza directly in front of the courthouse building, as the Sun reported on February 13, 1904:

The Judges of the Supreme Bench met yesterday with the commission on the emergency legislation appointed by the Governor for the purpose of discussing the situation. A letter was sent to the Mayor recommending that provision shall be made for widening St. Paul street opposite the Courthouse before any permits are granted to rebuild on that thoroughfare. The Mayor replied approving the suggestion.

Charles Center

Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. - Double Statue (1987)

Supportive of Civil Rights

A. Lloyd Lillie, Jr.: Born 1932, award-winning sculptor; received a diploma from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and also studied at Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, the Corcoran School of Art, and the Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence.


A double portrait of former Baltimore mayor, Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., a driving force behind the downtown revitalization of Charles Center. One portrait depicts D’Alesandro casually standing by the side of the plaza looking out over Charles Center. His proper right hand rests on the railing of the plaza and his proper left hand rests on his left trouser pocket. A few feet away, another portrait depicts him relaxing on a park bench with his arms stretched out over the back of the bench. His legs are crossed and he looks over to his proper left.

Thomas D’Alesandro died in 1987:

As mayor from 1947 to 1959, D’Alesandro presided over a period of vast physical improvements in Baltimore. An airport was opened outside the city during his tenure, and major league baseball returned to Baltimore. In 1958, he won voter approval for the financing of the Charles Center urban renewal project, launching the rejuvenation that remade much of the heart of his beloved city.


Behind the Backlash on Charles Center

About Charles Center

  • 1954 : Committee for Downtown organized to promote a 1000-acre master plan for stopping the commercial decline of downtown/central Baltimore.
  • 1955: Greater Baltimore Committee, led by banker and developer James W. Rouse, joined the effort. Dissatisfied with the slow pace of public planning, GBC formed an in-house planning team, the Planning Council, headed by nationally-known planner David Wallace from Philadelphia.

David Wallace: In Philadelphia, PA in 1953, under Mayor Joseph S. Clark, David Wallace led a citywide urban redevelopment evaluation that resulted in the Central Urban Renewal Area (CURA) Report. The report established a new strategy for overall redevelopment that targeted catalytic actions to strengthen communities and downtown. CURA became a model for Baltimore, MD.

  • March 1958: Presented a plan to Mayor & City Council calling for office buildings, commercial space, hotels, a theatre, underground parking, etc. Unusual in for incorporating existing structures (not a “clean-slate” design), across a 33 acre site. Includes three public plazas designed by RTKL, connected by walkways and pedestrian bridges. Plan formed the basis of a $25 million bond issue that year. Eventually spent $40 million public funding, $145 million private investment.
  • GBC established an Architectural Review Board: Deans from three of the most prominent architectural schools in the U.S. (Harvard, MIT and University of Pennsylvania) who judged the plans for each parcel of land before development.

Public benefits: increase in employment help the city’s economy; increase in tax base will mean more city resources to meet the needs of the poor. Property development scheme of direct benefit to corporate and finance capital: new downtown employment in skilled or high-paying jobs went to suburban residents, jobs created for city residents are temporary construction or low-paying service sector.1

Declaring Charles Center the “New Heart of Baltimore,” Jane Jacobs called the project an:

…attempt to stimulate a rebuilding use which is at fundamental odds with previous use or the surroundings of the project. The site is in the very heart of downtown, not on its fringes, and it is to be re-used for precisely the things that belong in the heart of downtown.

September 1970: First City Fair staged at Charles Center:

A pall hung over many city leaders when several of them, including housing commissioner Robert Embry, suggested a city fair at its new Charles Center to celebrate its neighborhoods, ethnic customs, talents and institutional strength.  On the eve of the first fair, fearing that it would set up a riot-prone situation and under pressure from conservatives, D’Alesandro almost canceled it.  However, the fair was held and became an annual event, drawing over a million visitors. 

Charles Plaza & Center Plaza (1958, 2007)

The 1958 Charles Center promotional report stated:

“Here, open space will be used, loved and economically successful because it will be full of pleasant things: fountains, sculpture, flowers, umbrellas, flags, and trees. The open space will be, in its own way, as concentrated as the city around it.”

  • Three plazas, located on the interior of the two superblocks, linked through a series of elevated walkways, escalators and skywalks in order to overcome the problem of the site’s steep topography (a 68-foot drop in grade from the northern boundary of the site to the southern boundary)
  • Create a series of “pedestrian islands.”
  • Envisioned as a landscape of light, sculpture, and water by George Kostritsky of RTKL
  • Circulation system was a typical component of urban design of the 1950s and 60; often promoted as a means of separating pedestrians from the automobile traffic. At Charles Center, the exterior circulation system was also intended to provide a venue for extensive retail activity.2

One Charles Center (1962)

Not just an office building, but a monument to a revered and influential philosopher -architect will soon rise at Charles and Lexington streets.3

  • Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer both proposed designs for this site
  • 23-story aluminum and glass International Style skyscraper, completed in 13 months at a cost of $10,350,000.
  • Another developer adapted Breuer’s proposal for a site across the street, and the two buildings came up practically side-by-side.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) : As a teenager in Germany started work in his father’s stone carving shop. Served as the last director of the Bauhaus architectural school before the Nazis forced the school to close in 1933. Immigrated to Chicago in 1938; best known for midcentury modernist landmarks Farnsworth Building outside of Chicago and the Seagram Building in New York City.

Two Charles Center/Charles Towers (1969)

  • 1969: Erected by developers Conklin + Rossant
  • High-rise apartments, 385 feet/117 meters tall, 30 floors, tallest residential building in Baltimore

Nearby Buildings

BG&E Building (1916/1966)

  • 1916: 21-story skyscraper designed by Parker, Thomas and Rice.
  • Standing at 88 m (289 ft) it tied the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower from 1916 to 1923 as the tallest building in Baltimore.

 Parker, Thomas and Rice: Architectural firm based in Boston and Baltimore (Douglas H. Thomas in Baltimore) also designed the Hotel Belvedere and the B&O Railroad Office Building among other iconic Baltimore landmarks

  • 1966: Addition designed by Fisher, Nes, Campbell and Associates (also worked on the World Trade Center as Associate Architects)

Lexington Street

Lexington Street Pedestrian Mall (1973)

  • 1959: Kalamazoo, Michigan, became the first American city to adopt an outdoor pedestrian mall designed by Victor Gruen, pioneer in the design of shopping malls, for their downtown area, closing two blocks of Burdick Street to automobile traffic.
  •  1958: the Planning Council of the Greater Baltimore Committee advanced a $3,500,000 scheme to create an enclosed air-conditioned mall along Lexington Street. A few years later, Committee for Downtown and the firm of Tatar and Kelly proposed a $1,000,000 “face-lifting” for Lexington Street that would include “an elevated pedestrian level connecting to the second floors of existing buildings.”
  •  1967: after earlier abandoning the plan, the Planning Commission was inspired by presentations on successful pedestrian malls in Ottawa, Canada (Sparks Street, 1961) and Knoxville, Tennessee (Market Square, 1950s)
  • 1973:  Lexington Street between Liberty and Howard closed to all traffic except delivery trucks, despite lawsuit by Gutman Realty (Brager-Gutman)
  • 1984 September 14-16:  City Fair moved to the Market Center area with events at the Lexington Street pedestrian mall, Lexington Market, Park Avenue’s Chinatown, Center Plaza and more. Baltimore Metro subway system, had not yet started regular weekend service, but provided special service during the weekend of the fair.

Kresge’s Department Store (1938) – Park Avenue and Lexington Street (SE)

  • 1897: S.S. Kresge and J.G. McCrory became partners.
  • 1912 : Kresge bought out McCrory and opened 85 stores.
  • 1938: Art Deco store built, expanded in the late 1950s to the south
  • 1970s: Closed

Keith’s Theatre – 114 W. Lexington Street

Example of black advocacy for expanded access to segregated theaters:

June 1932: In response to an insistent demand on the part of the colored population of Baltimore the management of Keith’s Theatre… have arranged to give midnight shows this Wednesday and Thursday nights at which colored people will be admitted to all parts of the theatre.”4

Included a special appearance by black celebrity George Dewey Washington.

Brager-Gutman Building – Park Avenue and Lexington Street (SW)

  • 1930 Built as the first downtown store to feature escalators.
  • Known as Gutman’s until a merger with Brager’s (aka Brager-Eisenburg’s) located at Eutaw and Saratoga Streets to form“”Brager-Gutman’s”
  • Later acquired by Epstein’s – another local discount store chain, established in 1926
  • 1991: Closed

Segregation on Lexington Street

 November 1953: “If You Ask Me,” Afro-American Newspaper, Mrs. B.M. Phillips:

Thanks to the Committee On Racial Equality, (CORE), the Urban league, and the Americans for Democratic Action, (ADA), more stores in the 200 block W. Lexington st. are realizing there is no color line in the dollars you spend. Lunch counters and restaurants in the Kresge and Woolworth Five and Ten have been serving all customers for several weeks. McCrory’s has just reversed its policy and will serve all comers […] Schulte United in the 200 block Lexington is still acting silly.”

Schulte United Five and Dime – 200 block W. Lexington Street

  • 1901: Established as Eisenberg Underselling Store, later Eisenberg Company, by 1928 had over 600 employees at several locations, motto “prices that are irreproachable everywhere”
  • David A. Schulte, “tobacco store potentate,” merged with United Cigar Stores in 1927, Entered five and dime retail business in 1928 with goal of 1,000 stores, $35,000,000 investment
  •  1954 January 28: Schulte United Five-and-Dime dropped “color bar at eating counters in Baltimore”

Kirby-Woolworth Building – 223 W. Lexington Street

  • 1877: F.M. Kirby met Woolworth in Watertown, NY
  • 1884: Woolworth & Kirby open a five-and-ten cent store in Wilkes-Barre, PA; partners split in 1887
  • 1907: Kirby Building built for Mr. Frederick M. Kirby by architect Charles M. Anderson; H.G. Woolworth & Co. building constructed designed by John K. Stack, built by George Bunecke & Sons, owned by Mrs. Mary V. Wylie
  • 1911: F. M. Kirby & Company owned and operated ninety-six stores
  • 1912 January 1: Merged to form the Woolworth Company

McCrory’s Building – 227-229 W. Lexington Street

John Graham McCrorey: McCrorey dropped the “e” from his name to save money on extra letter on store signs.

  • late 1920s: Lexington Street location opens, grew to a chain of over 1300 stores by 1950s
  •  1930: Second floor of McCrory’s leased to Chin Quon and Tom You for a restaurant

Read’s Drug Store (1934) – Howard and Lexington Streets (Southeast corner)

  • 1934: Read’s opened at Howard and Lexington on the 300th anniversary of Maryland colony
    • Design by Baltimore architects Smith and May (who also designed the Bank of America building in 1929) included terra cotta panels on the fourth-floor depicting sailing ships, pattern of dolphins on the interior dining balcony
  • 1955: after successful campaigns to desegregate the Kresge’s and Grant’s store chains, CORE joined with Morgan students fighting to desegregate the Read’s Drug Store located at the Northwood Shopping Center.
  • January 20, 1955: a group of student activists from Morgan, staged a sit-in
  • January 22, 1955: Afro-American runs the headline, “Now serve all,” sit-down led to desegregation of the whole Read’s chain

Howard & Lexington Streets

Discrimination at Downtown Department Stores

1940s: Department stores discrimination against shoppers targeted by Afro American in the Orchids & Onions campaign. Onions included the May Company, Stewart’s Department Store, and Hutzler’s.

1960 March 26: Black student activists attempted to purchase food at department store restaurants at the Northwood Shopping Center and downtown; black students were attempting to buy lunch at four downtown department stores, only successful at Hochschild Kohn. Stewart’s shut its food counters to all, white and black, and closed the food operation. About 20 blacks entered a Hutzler’s restaurant and waited for three hours, but were not served.

1960 April 17: Issue resolved on Easter Sunday when the Sun reported that store executive Albert D. Hutzler met with civil rights leaders Furman Templeton, David Glenn and Robert B. Watts, then announced “We have lifted restrictions. Negroes will be served in our restaurants.” Hecht-May and other stores followed.

Source: Baltimore Sun

Eutaw and Fayette Streets

Ford’s Theatre (Site) – Fayette Street

Picketed by the Baltimore NAACP from 1947-1952; Paul Robeson

 February 17, 1946 : NAACP executive secretary Addison Pinkney:

This is an insult to our citizens who have recently returned from Europe’s battlefields where they made untold sacrifices to help free Europe’s Jews from Hitler’s persecution, and to bring democracy and justice to the world. Many of our young men still lie in unknown graves on foreign soil, having given their all… In memory of their sacrifice, and that all boys of all races, creed, and colors we can do no less than refuse to be party to unjust practices which negate the democratic ideal… We, here in Baltimore, are endeavoring to strengthen the democratic concept by seeing to it that it is practiced.


September 1947: picketing at Ford’s Theater continued for:

”the entire season [and] reduced the average attendance to less than on-half capacity of [the] building. This shows public opinion was with the pickets in their protests against discrimination and segregation.”

Ford’s Theater, which was operated by United Booking Office Inc. of New York, leased the building from MorrisMechanic, the Baltimore theater mogul. By 1950, United Booking Office reported that Ford’s, once one of the most prosperous theaters in the nation, had its box office receipts cut almost in half. This could be attributed both to the NAACP protest and to the poor selection of plays that had been sent to Baltimore. Baltimore Sun

1951: Basil Rathbone, British actor famous for playing Sherlock Holmes, declared :

You may depend on my taking a firm stand of disapproval of the segregated theatre in Baltimore and to inform any management to whom I may in future contract myself and the case of any play in which I play.

Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin, speaking in early 1952 at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, declared that he wanted Ford’s opened to blacks because they had been “needlessly affronted” by its policies. “We are going to walk together,” he said. “I am an optimist, and we must win. We are going to stop this evil thing.”

February 1, 1952: Ford’s dropped segregation policies

Hippodrome Theatre – Howard Street

  • segregated white

Lord Baltimore Hotel

  • 1954: black players from three American League teams with integrated rosters coming to play against the Orioles in baltimore had to stay at the York Hotel; white teammeates stayed at the Lord Baltimore, the Emerson or Southern Hotel.
  • 1955: Students at Johns Hopkins University organized to move the prom away from the hotel after the hotel manager stated that under no circumstances would they admit black students and threatened to “stop the dance if Negroes attended.” to the Alcazar in Mount Vernon in protest of their discriminatory policies.
  • July 1958: Earlier lobbying from Theodore McKeldin failed but by 1957 hotels were admitting black ballplayers and some conference attendees. Baltimore hosted the All-Star Game, six black All-Stars (Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson) registered at the Lord Baltimore but visiting black spectators could not.

AFRO assistant editor Jimmy Williams advised spectators to bring pup tents and box lunches.

“The box lunches will be to ease the pangs of an aching stomach… The pup tents will provide a place for them to rest their carcasses after the last door of the downtown hotels have been slammed in their face and the uptown hotels are filled.” Williams predicted visitors would leave “just loving the quaint customs of Baltimore, which boasts of major league baseball and minor league businessmen.”


  • 1964: George Wallace presidential campaign offices – Hotels refused to accept them as guests. In Baltimore, campaign set up at Lord Baltimore but was suddenly informed there were no rooms for them, party transferred to a nearby motel in Towson. (Source)
  • 1965: Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed at the hotel for a SCLC meeting and held a press conference; Mayor Tommy D’Alesandro met MLK to give him the keys to the city, spoke for two hours (Agenda)

Charles Street

10 Light Street (Bank of America Building/Baltimore Trust Company Building)

  • 1929: 10 Light Street is the tallest building in the state; tallest office building in the United States south of New York City. Architects Taylor and Fisher, cost $3 million
  •  October 1929: Beginning of the Great Depression created new challenges for African-Americans around the nation who continued to be excluded from local unions and were subject to the policy of “last hired and first fired.” While the federal government’s New Deal programs brought some relief, discrimination persisted in the administration of these programs.
  • 1930s: Baltimore Trust Company first started failing in September 1931; never reopened after 1933 bank holiday; Maryland Public Works Administration then rented offices in a nearly empty building
  • 1934: 13% of Baltimore whites and 40% of Baltimore blacks were on relief, according to an Urban League Study

On the Civil Rights response to the Great Depression, Joe William Trotter, Jr. in To Make Our World Anew wrote:

In 1933, the NAACP, the Urban League, and other interracial organizations formed the Joint Committee on National Recovery (JCNR). Although underfunded and ill staffed, the JCNR lobbied in Washington, D.C. on behalf of blacks and helped to publicize the plight of African Americans in the relief and recovery programs. The Urban League also formed Emergency Advisory Councils and Negro workers councils in major cities across the country and played a major role in promoting closer ties between blacks and organized labor. (p.151)

Funding for the Public Works Administration supported local “slum-clearance” efforts that disproportionately impacted African-Americans in the example of the extension of Howard Street and the construction of the Howard Street bridge which displaced hundreds of African-American households.

  • early 1930s: Baltimore communist party members organized neighborhood relief councils to escort people to relief agencies and demand immediate relief. Most of these actions were small but some involved larger parades of 100 or more people.
  • early 1934: the Baltimore Emergency Relief branch office in northwest Baltimore was besieged for two days by BUC demonstrators, and several details of police were forced to evict wave after wave of protesters from the office entrance and the surrounding wall.

Leaders of the CIO and representatives of the PUL routinely blasted the local WPA for racial discrimination. Although [the WPA] regularly tried to discredit [them] … citing their alleged ties to the Community Party, they still grudgingly acceded to minor demands.


Phoenix Law Office Site – Charles and Redwood

Thurgood Marshall’s office in Baltimore was located in the Phoenix Building at the corner of Charles and East Redwood streets. His private practice never flourished, however, as his clientele often could not afford to pay for his services. Moreover, Marshall was increasingly drawn towards civil rights cases through the influence of his mentor, Charles Hamilton Houston. As early as 1935, he was working with Houston on desegregating the University of Maryland’s School of Law.

McKeldin Fountain

Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin (November 20, 1900 – August 10, 1974); Mayor 1943–1947; Governor 1951-1959; Mayor 1963–1967; a member of the United States Republican Party

McKeldin was born in Baltimore to the family of a stonecutter turned policeman, he had 10 other siblings. He attended Baltimore City College at night while working as a bank clerk during the day. He graduated from the University of Maryland Law School in 1925.

1941: Started the project to build the East West Expressway “Highway to nowhere” based on design by Robert Moses; destroying a swath of black neighborhoods

Governor in 1950s, led response to 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, desegregating state parks, state institutions

Mayor McKeldin June 1966:

In response to those who might say that we have made significant progress in the field of civil rights, I could say that I agree; but, I would also have to say that there are problems – important problems – which have thus far not been resolved; and I believe that this City can no longer delay meeting its responsibilities, both in the public and private sectors of community life. The fact is that while we have moved, we have not moved toward the solution of these problems with the speed and vigor with which we are capable. We have not really attempted, as a community, to understand the plight, the unrest, and the feelings of those who have been denied. We have not attempted to understand why, even after significant progress, our negro brethren still insist that all is not right nor community – that there is much to be done.

Completed in 1982, the fountain is an explorable waterfall, set in a 2.8-acre traffic island, adjacent to a public plaza. The island, triangular in shape, is surrounded by traffic on three sides, including six lanes that cut it off from the harbor’s edge.

According to Fred Scharmen, WRT partner Thomas Todd, the principal designer, intended the fountain to be:

“reminiscent of a return to the source of the Susquehanna River, on its way to fill the Chesapeake Bay.”

The adjoining city-owned plaza is a free-speech zone that has been the site of both protests and civic celebrations; it served as the setting for the Occupy Baltimore encampment in the fall of 2011.

  1. David Harvey 

  2. TCLF 

  3. Baltimore Sun 

  4. Afro-American Newspaper